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Types of Project Management Methodologies

This article outlines various major methodologies within the world of project management using the analogy of a kitchen
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

There are various methodologies within the world of project management. Different methodologies bring different benefits, and all aim to deliver the best results from the team’s work. Here’s a comparison of some of the major project management methodologies, using the analogy of a kitchen.


Waterfall is a traditional approach. Waterfall project management handles things sequentially: there is the concept and planning phase, followed by the development phase, quality assurance, and finally project completion and maintenance. In the waterfall methodology, project requirements are usually defined at the beginning with little to no alterations to the plan unless absolutely necessary. For example, let’s imagine you’re in the kitchen about to cook a two-course meal using waterfall project management. You’ve got the menu all planned out and have recipes for each dish. Waterfall projects prioritise the project scope, so even if you run low on ingredients, you will keep sticking to the recipe in the menu as much as you can. It might cause delays for five minutes, so cooking takes a little longer than you thought it would.


The agile methodology is where emphasis is placed on empowering people to collaborate and make team decisions, in addition to continuous planning, continuous testing and continuous integration. For example, kitchens following the agile methodology don’t work with set course menus. They take the orders as they come in and are constantly pushing out smaller dishes at a rapid rate. Agile cooks, like their name, will be flexible and adaptable in their work. They will adapt what they are cooking based on the availability of the ingredients throughout the shift. They taste the dishes as they are being prepared, adjusting the seasoning and heat. They also work as a team, with several people collaborating to produce each dish, and using components of each other’s dishes in their own.


In this methodology, the project scope is a variable, while the time and the costs are constants for the project. This means that during project execution, the project scope is adjusted in order to get the maximum business value from the project. The Adaptive Project Framework (APF) is quite similar to agile in that it’s not a slave to the project scope – in the APF you try and do what you can. For example, imagine you are trying to cook a four-course meal within one hour (think Iron Chef, MasterChef, or another favourite TV cooking show). If you run short on time or ingredients, you might only make one of the courses or leave an ingredient out. Under APF, the primary focus is letting people eat on time.


Scrum is an iterative project management methodology that drives in situations where requirements constantly shift. Scrum delivers products in short cycles that allow for quick feedback and a rapid response change. Teams work in time units called sprints, which can range from a week to a month, and each sprint must end in a usable product. Scrum also emphasises a strong team dynamic with regular and close collaboration between team members, and it lacks traditional project management.

Scrum is a component of the agile methodology. Using scrum in the kitchen, you aren’t working off the recipe but instead you constantly taste test your food and make adjustments to the cooking as you go along. Scrum works with sprints in prearranged work cycles. Each sprint involves the team working together to produce something tangible – in our kitchen that could be each chef providing a component, working together to produce the complete dish. Then all the chefs gather feedback and use it to improve their cooking.


Lean manufacturing focuses on delivering more value with less waste in the project environment. It accomplishes this by empowering people and creating an environment of self-accountability. It also relies more heavily on process than some other methodologies, especially the concepts of standardisation and the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), which can help streamline team work.

In the kitchen, using lean development, the cooks try and create dishes with as few ingredients as possible and try to use all parts of the ingredients to maximise efficiency and minimise waste. Cooks following lean development create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and have them taste tested, before going back to the kitchen to tweak the dish for the final product.


Kanban focuses on visualising the workflow and minimising the work in progress at any given moment. Many activities are being performed at once, but the team is focused on the quality of what they are producing themselves at that time and visualising the workflow. Each employee knows exactly what is needed from them, because processes are clearly visible. There is also a possibility to foresee the issues before workflow stalls. For example, the kitchen only has a limited amount of space, you only have a few counters and chopping boards, you only have a few stoves and you have only few waiters to pass the food out. If you are done chopping vegetables or preparing raw ingredients, you can move it to the stove to cook it until the dish ahead of you is completed.


PRINCE2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments. It is a project management framework that enables an organisation to plan, manage and control a project. PRINCE2 is a generic project management framework, which means it is designed to be suitable for any project in any industry. It is based on the most up-to-date best practices in project management, which makes it a very popular choice among organisations around the world.

PRINCE2 is composed of four integrated elements: principles, themes, processes and standards. Principles are the foundations of the framework and everything in PRINCE2 is based on these principles, which are tailored to the project environment. The themes concern aspects of project management that must be continuously addressed throughout the project. Processes describe who is responsible for performing the themes at different points in the project. Finally, every project is different so the themes and processes must be tailored to suit the needs of the environment.

Further reading

Two articles comparing some different methodologies:

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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